Rhode Island BUI Penalties

Learn about the consequences of being convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) in Rhode Island.

In Rhode Island, it’s illegal to operate or drive any watercraft while under the influences of drugs or alcohol. The penalties of being convicted of boating under the influence (BUI) primarily depend on:

  • which classification of BUI the boater is convicted of
  • the number of prior BUI convictions
  • whether anyone was injured or killed, and
  • the boater’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

The BUI classification—which are described in “Rhode Island Boating Under the Influence Laws”—include:

  • Alcohol per se BUI
  • Drug per se BUI
  • Alcohol-impairment BUI, and
  • Drug-impairment BUI.

The penalties for the various types of BUI convictions are discussed below. (46 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 46-22.2-3 (2016).)

First Offenses

A BUI is considered a “first offense” if the boater has no prior BUI convictions that occurred within the past five years. The penalties for first-offense BUIs are:

  • Alcohol per se BUI with low BAC. A BUI offender whose BAC was at least .08% but less than .1% is guilty of a civil violation. Convicted boaters face $600 to $750 in fines and a 45-day boating privilege suspension. The judge can also order the offender to complete a boating safety course and ten to 60 hours of community service.
  • Alcohol per se BUI with medium BAC, alcohol-impairment BUI, and drug per se BUI. BUI offenders convicted of an alcohol-impairment BUI, drug per se BUI, or alcohol per se BUI involving a BAC of at least .1% but less than .15% are guilty of a misdemeanor. Convicted boaters face ten to 60 days of community service and/or up to a year in jail. Judges must impose $600 to $800 in fines and a three to six-month boating privilege suspension.  And all offenders are required to complete a boating safety course and/or substance abuse treatment.
  • Alcohol per se BUI with high BAC and drug-impairment BUI. BUI offenders convicted of a drug-impairment BUI or alcohol per se BUI involving a BAC of .15% or greater are guilty of a misdemeanor. Convicted boaters face 20 to 60 days of community service and/or up to a year in jail. Judges must impose $1,000 in fines and a three to six-month boating privilege suspension. And all offenders are required to complete a boating safety course and/or substance abuse treatment.

(46 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 46-22.2-3(d) (2016).)

Second Offenses

A BUI is considered a “second offense” if the boater has one prior BUI conviction that occurred within the past five years. The penalties for second-offense BUIs are:

  • Second alcohol per se BUI with low to medium BAC, alcohol-impairment BUI, and drug per se BUI. BUI second offenders convicted of an alcohol-impairment BUI, drug per se BUI, or alcohol per se BUI involving a BAC of at least .08% but less than .15% are guilty of a misdemeanor. Convicted boaters face ten days to one year in jail, $900 in fines, and a one to two-year boating privilege suspension. The judge can also require the offender to complete substance abuse treatment.
  • Second alcohol per se BUI with high BAC and drug-impairment BUI. BUI second offenders convicted of a drug-impairment BUI or alcohol per se BUI involving a BAC of .15% or greater are guilty of a misdemeanor. Convicted boaters face six months to one year in jail, $1,500 in fines, and a two-year boating privilege suspension. Judges can also require an offender to complete substance abuse treatment.

(46 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 46-22.2-3(e) (2016).)

Third Offenses

A BUI is considered a “third offense” if the boater has two prior BUI convictions that occurred within the past five years. The penalties for third-offense BUIs are:

  • Third alcohol per se BUI with low to medium BAC, alcohol-impairment BUI, and drug per se BUI. BUI third offenders convicted of an alcohol-impairment BUI, drug per se BUI, or alcohol per se BUI involving a BAC of at least .08% but less than .15% are guilty of a felony. Convicted boaters face one to three years in jail, $900 in fines, and a two to three-year boating privilege suspension. Judges must also require all offenders to complete substance abuse treatment.
  • Third alcohol per se BUI with high BAC and drug-impairment BUI. BUI third offenders convicted of a drug-impairment BUI or alcohol per se BUI involving a BAC of .15% or greater are guilty of a felony. Convicted boaters face three to five years in jail, $1,500 to $5,500 in fines, and a three-year boating privilege suspension. Judges must also require all offenders to complete substance abuse treatment.

In addition to the other penalties, all boaters convicted of a third BUI face the possibility of having their boat seized by the state. (46 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 46-22.2-3(f) (2016).) 

BUIs Involving Injuries or Death

A person who causes “serious bodily” injury or death to another while boating under the influence is guilty of a felony. A conviction carries three to five years in jail, $1,500 to $5,500 in fines, and a three-year boating privilege suspension. All convicted boaters must also complete substance abuse treatment.

HOW MUCH TIME WOULD YOU ACTUALLY SPEND IN JAIL?

Sentencing law is complex. For example, a statute might list a “minimum” jail sentence that’s longer than the actual amount of time (if any) a defendant will have to spend behind bars. All kinds of factors can affect actual punishment, including credits for good in-custody behavior and jail-alternative work programs.

If you face criminal charges, consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer. An attorney with command of the rules in your jurisdiction will be able to explain the law as it applies to your situation.

Talk to an Attorney

Rhode Island BUI law is complicated, and the facts of each case are different. If you’ve been arrested for boating under the influence, get in touch with an experienced BUI lawyer. A qualified attorney can explain how the law applies to the facts of your case and help you decide on your best course of action.

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